Time for some myth busting! First, let me say that the following only applies to Kiev, since that is the sum of our Ukrainian experience thus far. Kiev is a very cosmopolitan city. The people and feel of the city remind me very much of New York City. They are very chic and stylish, dressed to the nines, and many people are in a hurry. The shoes are amazingly fab and unique and I yet to see any one pair more than once. According to a Russian man named Gene that we met on the plane on the way from Frankfurt, Germany to Kiev, the Ukrainian language is a very beautiful and romantic-sounding language compared to Russian (though I find Russian to be a very beautiful language and love to hear everyone speaking it) and Ukraine is known for its romance and public displays of affection. Much like the French language and Paris is known to us. I had heard many things about this country before we came and I’m sure many of the stereotypes are true, but what we have experienced is very different from that of others, at least so far. If you want to read some very funny things that my friend Nicole has experienced here while adopted, check out some anecdotes here at her blog.
Ukrainians are extremely rude and do not like Americans: Busted! We have yet to meet even one rude person here. Even the guy that helped us through the airport, who is supposed to be a real creep, was just as nice as he could be. We do not know but a few words in Russian but, nevertheless are treated kindly by everyone and no one has chastised us for not knowing their language. I have to think that this has much to do with Dahlia. She literally stops traffic! There are few traffic lights here, so when you need to cross a busy 4-lane street, you just begin to cross. You step off the curb and expect cars to stop. Thankfully they do. But today, drivers saw Dahlia in our arms as we were looking for a good opportunity to cross the street and they just stopped! Without our having to even look for an opening. The lady who keeps the door at our apartment makes a fuss over her every single time we come or go. Our waitress at the restaurant offered to hold Dahlia so we could eat, so we let her. We have been told that Ukrainians on the street passing by do not look you in the eye or smile, but we get stares and huge smiles and oohing and ahhing over her as we walk around the city. We have not seen very many children here, so perhaps the rarity of babies is why people are so kind. For whatever reason, we have been treated very well and have thoroughly enjoyed our stay here. So, our best advice for traveling to this area is, bring a baby with you!
Dahlia’s latest contribution to the trip happened today as we were waiting at the State Department of Adoption: she got us invited to the front of the line by the many families who were there to pick up their Letters of Invitation that are needed to go and meet their adoptive children. It was unanimous and people absolutely insisted that we go first because of her. So now we are packing and getting ready to ride on a train all night to Kherson. We have been told that the girls are very excited and that everyone there knows we are coming. We will meet with the inspector first, then we will be escorted to the boarding school where the girls live and then....voila! We will meet them. We are both nervous and excited! I still have the images of those cute little pictures of them from the paperwork we saw yesterday and their sweet little pony tails on either side of their heads. And the cute little dresses with the polka-dotted bunnies on them that they wore. Hopefully we will all sleep well tonight on the train and be rocked to sleep by the motion of it and be fresh for our big day tomorrow. Please continue to pray for us and we will post tomorrow as soon as we can to share the events of the day.